As Catholics, God has a plan for each of us in our lives. We all have a state of life that we are called to live – a vocation that is the specific purpose for our lives. A personal call from God, a vocation is offered freely and must be accepted freely. It is a lifelong commitment to something that God wants us to do, as well as a call to be the unique person that He made us to be.
All Catholics are called to live holy lives and to be saints, but God calls each of us to do this in different ways, through a particular vocation in life. There are four states in life through which the faithful may sanctify themselves: the priesthood, the religious life, Holy Matrimony, and the chaste single state.
Priesthood – A call to ordained priesthood, whether in a diocese or in a religious community, is a calling to serve God and his people. What distinguishes priesthood most especially is that the priest performs the sacraments, bringing Christ to the Church in a way different than any other person can.
Religious Life – Religious life is a call to join a community for the love of God, and has many different expressions. Men and women dedicate their lives to serve in Orders or movements as priests, brothers, monks, nuns, and sisters. Some live a contemplative lifestyle, focused on prayer; while others have a missionary focus.
However they live out their charism, they bring Christ to those they minister to.
Holy Matrimony – In holy matrimony, a couple’s relationship is more than simply their choice to enter a union that is a social and legal institution. It involves a call from God and a response from two people who promise to build, with the help of divine grace, a lifelong, intimate and sacramental partnership of love and life. As a particular way of following the Lord, this vocation also challenges a couple to live their marriage in a way that expresses God’s truth and love in the world.
Single State – Single men and women are called by God to serve the Church, the bride of Christ, to whom they are wedded from the moment they are baptized. A vocation to the single life means that each person has a unique mission in life to fulfill as a chaste, unmarried Catholic. They dedicate themselves to their work and the spread of the Gospel while working in the world, and have greater flexibility and time to do a variety of tasks and to help other families.
In any of these states of life God calls us to build up society in a manner that reflects the love of God.